Press Releases – Great Lake Maritime Task Force
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Stay up-to-date with the latest news, developments and information pertaining to the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the maritime industry and other related topics.

U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher 2022 Legislator of the Year

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN (July 25, 2022) – On Friday, July 22, 2022, the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) recognized the unwavering commitment of Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher to protect and advance the Great Lakes maritime supply chain at the U.S. Venture, Inc. facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Congressman Gallagher has spearheaded legislation that invests in shipbuilding on the Great Lakes, improves the maritime supply chain during the winter, and ensures the Great Lakes Navigation System remains viable for years to come.

Congressman Gallagher introduced the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards, and America’s Repair Dock (SHIPYARD) Act of 2021 that would provide $25 billion to make investments needed to optimize, improve, and rebuild shipyard facilities, electrical infrastructure, environmental systems, and the equipment of public and private shipyards in the U.S. that support the U.S. Navy fleet. “At a time when China is commissioning three ships in a single day, we desperately need to strengthen the American shipbuilding industrial base to expand, support, and service the fleet,” said Rep. Gallagher. “The bipartisan, bicameral SHIPYARD Act makes critical investments to better ensure shipyards across the country, such as Marinette Marine, can build the Navy the nation needs.”

He also introduced the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act, a bill that would clearly define the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) responsibility for icebreaking on the Great Lakes. Currently, the USCG conducts Great Lakes icebreaking based on an 85-year-old Executive Order that fails to clearly define the USCG’s mission. This bill would update that mission to help ensure it meets the modern demands of commerce in the Great Lakes region. “In cold winter months, icebreaking helps keep our Great Lakes economy moving. But a lack of sufficient icebreaking in recent years has shown that Congress needs to modernize the Coast Guard’s icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes,” said Rep Gallagher. “The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill codifying an icebreaking performance standard to meet the reasonable demands of commerce. This will help ensure that small businesses in Northeast Wisconsin can continue shipping goods from point A to point B — no matter the month or the weather.”

Congressman Gallagher was a staunch supporter of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2020.  He ensured a 13% set-aside in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Previous legislation included funding for small harbors like the Port of Green Bay but failed to sufficiently increase the funding to adequate levels. This bill increased the amount allotted to harbors on the Great Lakes Navigation System from 10% to 13% with actual funding levels this year approaching 15%.

“Congressman Gallagher has helped to solidify thousands of good paying jobs for the hard-working people of Wisconsin.  U.S. shipyards are critical to our national defense and Mike Gallagher continues to make that a priority,” stated Craig Perciavalle, Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding.

“At a time when the American supply chain is struggling, Congressman Gallagher championed critical legislation to rebuild Great Lakes ports and waterways.  The Port of Green Bay is grateful for the passage of WRDA 2020 and the effort Congressman Gallagher put in to ensure an equitable portion of funding for the Great Lakes Navigation System,” stated Dean Haen, Director of the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department.  He continued, “The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force’s Legislature of the Year Award is a fitting tribute to Rep. Gallagher and acknowledges all that he has done for our region and our industry.”

“Congressman Gallagher’s support for U.S. merchant mariners, Wisconsin ports, and Wisconsin shipbuilding drives economic stability in the Great Lakes region and in the nation.  Simply put, he helps to create family sustaining jobs for thousands,” stated Mark Ruge, President of the Wisconsin Domestic Maritime Coalition.

“Mike Gallagher invests in the American worker protecting sailors from damaging ice floes, advancing U.S. shipbuilding, and keeping the maritime supply chain moving on the nation’s Fourth Sea Coast,” stated John Baker, International Longshoremen’s Association and Great Lakes Maritime Task Force Vice President.

“The work done by Congressman Gallagher to correct years of neglect to the Great Lakes Navigation System during the winter months is monumental.  The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a great step in the right direction.  In addition, the support Congressman Gallagher provided to get the Great Lakes designated as a navigation system with a guaranteed allocation of money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will undoubtedly serve the Great Lakes region for decades to come and that is why he is our Legislator of the Year,” stated Jim Weakley, President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force.

“The importance of the Great Lakes cannot be overstated. Here in Northeast Wisconsin, these lakes are crucial to not just our economy, but to our way of life, and it’s critical we do everything we can to preserve these national treasures for generations to come,” said Rep. Gallagher. “It’s an honor to be named the 2022 Legislator of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, and I look forward to continuing my work to both protect the Great Lakes and expand opportunities for the businesses that rely on them.”

The presentation of the award was made at the U.S. Venture, Inc. facility in Green Bay.  President and CEO of U.S. Venture, John Schmidt stated, “The Port of Green Bay serves as a critical link in the supply chain for gasoline, diesel, and renewable energy products supplied to Northeastern Wisconsin.  We appreciate and commend Congressman Gallagher for his continued support of the Port and the Great Lakes.”

About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with 74 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System.  Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labor and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $25 billion in economic activity.

 

Great Lakes Ships Lose a Month Due to Lack of Icebreakers

CLEVELAND, OHIO (May 12, 2022) – The ice season is over on the Great Lakes but the impacts of insufficient Coast Guard icebreaking linger.  With a defined shipping season of 10-months, due to the closure of the navigational locks in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan which connect Lake Superior and the iron ore mines to the steel mills in the southern lakes, delays to the maritime supply chain have tremendous impacts.

During this year’s ice season, the U.S.-flag Great Lakes shipping industry lost the equivalent of a month due to delays in ice covered waters.  1.645 million tons of cargo carrying capacity was delayed for 679.5 hours or 28 days due to ice conditions on Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and in Green Bay and a lack of Coast Guard icebreakers to meet the needs of commerce.

“It amazes me that a cargo container stuck in Chesapeake Bay or in the Suez Canal gets worldwide attention and that happens on the Great Lakes every year.  The loss of one day of shipping is tremendous, but a month is devasting.  Imagine if highways in the northern states didn’t have enough snowplows to keep traffic moving during frequent winter storms and sat on the road for a month…it is unacceptable,” stated Jim Weakley, President of the Great Maritime Task Force.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ice conditions this past winter were “average” to “slightly below average” during the bulk of the icebreaking period.  Several ships, including some Canadian-flag lakers, faced perilous journeys through ice infested waters that nearly forced a vessel aground in the Straits of Mackinac and shutdown waterways.  At one point several vessels were stuck in eastern Lake Superior for more than three days.  With an aging fleet of six 40-year-old small icebreaking tugs and only one heavy icebreaker the U.S. Coast Guard couldn’t keep up.  Multiple vessels were shoved near the edge of the navigational channels as ice floes over a foot thick shifted which lasted up until mid-April.  At the beginning of the ice season the U.S. Coast Guard lost five icebreakers to engineering casualties, just when they were needed most.

“The Coast Guard needs more icebreakers on the Fourth Sea Coast.  We have 237,000 jobs depending on a reliable Great Lakes Navigation System.  In addition, our sailors deserve to feel safe navigating our waterways regardless of the time of year,” stated John D. Baker, International Longshoremen’s Association and Vice President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force.

While progress fixing the icebreaking issue has been slow, it is moving forward thanks to key Great Lakes Senators and Congressional Representatives.  Over the past year both the current Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the nominee to replace him testified before the Senate Commerce Committee acknowledging the need for another heavy Great Lakes icebreaker.  In addition, the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act has passed the House in the Coast Guard Authorization Bill which authorizes full funding for the new icebreaker, mandates transparent and accurate performance measures, and commissions a study by the Government Accountability Office to examine the impacts and needs for additional U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers on the Great Lakes.

About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with 74 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System.  Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labor and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $25 billion in economic activity.

Lack of Coast Guard Icebreaking Disrupts Supply Chain and Delays Soo Lock Dewatering

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force Annual Report

Today the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) released their annual report for 2021. The report includes some significant accomplishments advanced by GLMTF members over the past few years to include progress on the Great Lakes dredging crisis, efficient funding of the new large navigational lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and pending legislation to improve U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking performance measures along with funding for a new heavy Great Lakes icebreaker.

 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters 2021 Legislator of the Year 

Today the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) recognized the tremendous work done by Michigan U.S. Senator Gary Peters for protecting and advancing the Great Lakes Navigation System. “The Great Lakes are more than just an economic engine and ecological treasure: they are simply in our DNA as Michiganders,” said Senator Peters. “It’s critical we do everything in our power to protect and preserve the Great Lakes for future generations – and that’s always been my focus. I’m deeply honored to have earned this distinction and am thankful to have excellent partners like the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force that work tirelessly to improve the lives of Michiganders.”